Six things to help Mayo win


Okay, it’s getting closer now to the replay than the drawn match so it’s probably about time to start looking forward rather than back. Granted that is not the easiest thing during a replay week considering there is only a six-day turnaround.

But we are well aware of what it is like to be involved in a replay week, something that Dublin cannot claim. The 2005 All-Ireland quarter-final against Tyrone was their last high profile replay in the championship, prior to that it was the quarter-final against Kerry in Thurles back in 2001.

Much of the discussion surrounding the replay has been about who can learn more in the intervening six days. I personally had to laugh listening to Off The Ball on Tuesday evening when Mossy Quinn believed that six days was more than enough for Dublin to work on their problems but that Mayo would need more time. Cause we all know it takes the thick culchies a bit longer to work on things.

Now this is not a piece aimed at riling up the already toxic environment that is surrounding this match. With the likes of Charlie Redmond and Senan Connell doing their damnedest to get the backs of the Dublin fans so far up that god knows what will happen on Saturday. There are already many reports of abuse and violence taking place in the stands on Sunday, that could potentially only increase this Saturday after the comments of some Dublin pundits.

Thankfully the Mayo pundits are keeping quiet, with the exception of Kevin McStay who many outside of Dublin will tell you was unbiased and restrained on RTE last Sunday.

Onto the point of this piece. What can be fixed in six days and can Mayo use the week better than their opponents? My opinion is yes they can, and here is what they need to do.

Get the sweeper right

On Sunday Noel Connolly and Pat Holmes threw Ballaghaderreen’s David Drake into the championship for the first time. In what was a serious curve ball the debutant put in a good shift and did nothing wrong. However, I believe that he didn’t do anything great either.

Acting as somewhat of a second sweeper alongside Colm Boyle, the wing-back was supposed to be the link man between defence and attack but was caught in possession on a few occasions trying to fulfill that role.

Drake is a very good footballer, you don’t make this current Mayo panel if you are not, but being thrown into the cauldron of Croke Park against Dublin may have been just a little too much.

Granted, he was not helped by the fact that when he did try carry the ball forward, there was generally only a well marshalled Aidan O’Shea in the forwards.

Instead what I would like to see on Saturday evening is just a single sweeper. Mayo need to push up a bit more on the Dublin kickouts and that could offer the Dubs the chance to kick the ball beyond midfield. If that were to happen then the use of Colm Boyle or Paddy Durcan as the man floating around defence, always ready to break towards the ball or indeed forward with the ball, could be the way to go.

Drake has a huge role to play for Mayo and will have a bright future in Green and Red, but being thrown in this late in the championship is asking an awful lot. Despite how well he performed on Sunday, a different tactic is needed and that is the single sweeper.

Push up, but not too much

The zonal marking worked to a certain extent on Sunday, keeping the ball generally inside the 14-yard line on Cluxton’s kickouts and forcing Dublin to start running from almost the endline.

Where it didn’t work is that when a Dublin player got past the first tackle there tended to be a serious amount of space for them to run into coming up to midfield.

In the last ten minutes in particular, we saw Mayo push up on Cluxton’s kickouts and pilfer 1-4 without reply. Mayo are the best team in the country when it comes to frustrating Cluxton and pushing up on his kickouts. We have seen it on numerous occasions over the past few years and the only time it was not done successfully, the 2013 final, was the one time we lost.

What Mayo need to do on Sunday is push up on Cluxton’s kickouts but not all the time. Much like moving Aidan O’Shea between full- and half-forward, Dublin need to be kept guessing on what Mayo are going to do each time Cluxton sets up for a kickout.

If Mayo can once again frustrate Cluxton then they force him into making decisions he does not want to make. It cannot be discounted that Cluxton is just like a child in their pram. If something happens that is not supposed to and he is not offered a free ride through the 70+ minutes then he gets ratty and throws out the toys. We saw that on Sunday during the second half, he even has an obvious tell with flailing arms in the air, and it worked a treat.

I would start the game zonally, switch to man marking and pushing up after about 15 minutes and then do the same in the second half. Mayo have the fitness on Dublin, that was shown in the drawn game, and that type of tactic could bring our superior fitness into play.

Crowd midfield

When you push up on Stephen Cluxton, as Mayo in the past have proved along with Donegal, you annoy him and force him to kick the ball long. When that happens the Dublin ‘possession restart’, as they like to call it, becomes erratic. Dublin cannot guarantee midfield ball, unlike when Cluxton kicks the ball sideways towards his corner-back, or even behind him to Cian O’Sullivan as happened on one occasion last Sunday

Big Barry Moran is needed on the field this Saturday to offer Mayo another aerial threat. As soon as Moran came on last Sunday he caught a huge ball in midfield and was involved in Bastick’s black card, which was blatantly correct by the way.

If Mayo are going to push up more on Cluxton and force him to kick it long then Dublin are going to try and repeat their 2013 tactics and drag our midfielders away from the ball. That is not going to be easy if Mayo have three big midfielders on the pitch alongside the likes of Diarmuid O’Connor and Lee Keegan who are more than adept around the middle of the park.

Michael Darragh McAuley and Denis Bastick, the likely midfield partnership for Dublin, will not be able to live with a crowded Mayo midfield. Of course it all hinges on making sure Cluxton kicks long.

Take your points

This one may be obvious but just look back to the opening 20 minutes of the second half on Sunday. In that period Mayo had the chance to put themselves in the ascendency on the scoreboard to match their ascendency on the pitch.  Instead what we got was some wides from Jason Doherty, Kevin McLoughlin and Andy Moran along with a few shots dropping well short of the posts.

It is no slight on the players for hitting those wides, generally coming under some form of pressure from the Dublin defence, but this Saturday those chances have to be taken. If that means recycling the ball one more time then so be it. When Dublin got their chance to get in the ascendency they put away 1-3 without reply in a four-minute spell.

That is what Mayo need to bring in to Saturday. They have shown many times this season they are more than capable of it.

Run, run, run

Mayo’s biggest strength is their direct running game. We have seen that over the past number of years, not least in the second half of last year’s drawn semi-final with Kerry and the first half of the replay.

With Lee Keegan, Colm Boyle, Keith Higgins and Patrick Durcan running from deep alongside Diarmuid O’Connor, Tom Parsons, Jason Doherty and Kevin McLoughlin coming off the shoulder, Mayo can be nigh on unstoppable when coming at you.

Add in the possibility of Aidan O’Shea running directly at the defence from the centre-forward position instead of receiving the ball around the edge of the square and driving towards goal, much like he did in Limerick last year, and Mayo become a different attacking proposition.

On Sunday there was far too many instances of either one man or no men at all coming off the shoulder of the man on the ball. Too often players around the midfield area just lumped the ball in aimlessly at Aidan O’Shea in the hope that his size and skill could benefit.

That may not work so well on Saturday and Mayo need to play to their strengths. They certainly did it for the last ten minutes and it reaped huge reward.

Sideline bravery

Mayo would likely have at least one All-Ireland title in the past ten years if the sideline acted quicker. In 2006 it was not making the full-back changes when they were needed, instead waiting too long. In 2012 it was the exact same problem while in 2013 it was not noticing that Dublin looked like the extras from The Walking Dead in the final few minutes. And the less said about last year the better. I still don’t think we can necessarily talk about that one without hyperventilating.

Holmes and Connolly have already shown this season that they are not afraid to make the big calls, both before and during a game. Even on Sunday they threw Paddy Durcan and David Drake into action when the likes of Kevin Keane and Andy Moran had more experience. But the management knew those players would be needed later in the day, well Andy certainly was anyway.

Tactical decisions can be the winning and losing of championship games in modern football and the Mayo management team certainly look brave enough to make those decisions.

Unfortunately it is not as simple as just putting these ideas into practice and Mayo will win. These are merely ideas of what Mayo could do to get the upper hand and be ahead on the scoreboard at the 74th or 75th minute, even later if the game goes like last Sunday.

Saturday is fast becoming the most important game of the past five years for Mayo. These guys have no quit in them and will fight to the very end. The same goes for the management. I can put forward these ideas, or somebody else can do something similar, and all ideas could be blown out of the water with a big surprise on Saturday.

I hope you have a ticket!

Mike Kelly covers sport at 4pm on CRCfm every Monday-Friday and 2-5pm on the Saturday Sport show. He’s also on Twitter @crcfmsport and @kellymike87.

33 thoughts on “Six things to help Mayo win

  1. So many variables, its mind boggling. As for fans I think we will need to same restraint as the players on Sat as some serious intimidation is to be expected. The genuine football fans are fine, it’s all the idiot’s that are jumping on the bandwagon that are seeking to ruin what should be a great occasion. We can do it but only with cool heads, no reaction, stay focused on the win.

  2. If Mayo have the fitness edge that they seem to have, maybe just keeping Dublin close to them on the scoreboard until its time to sprint to the finish line is the way to go? No red or black cards and keep our subs until the early second half barring injuries in the first half, then let fly for all we are worth
    Dublin have to be thinking that they need us put to the sword by half time and they will defend en masse in the second half to hold the lead they have built up, that’s something what I see happening, they’d try and score 3-12 by half time and have a big enough cushion to just defend the lead because they don’t have 70 hard minutes running in them at the moment. If Mayo hold Dublin to within a few points at the break, there’s only one winner.

  3. When the heat of the moment got me more feisty than usual after just four scoops before the game resulting in an ugly tete a tete…combined with your references of their former “greats” comments…then a 5 throw in combined with their “Supremacy” being shattered then it’s a right explosive cocktail!

  4. Is 2015 the year of the tactics? Mike goes through some possible tweaks and tactics above, we could all add to that list. Add in Dublins tactics from last week and possible tweaks and new tactics for this week. And where does that leave us, if the first half of last week is anything to go by, it leaves us with a poor substitute for the game we used to call football.
    What happened to the tactics in the last 10 min…… Out the window that’s where they went and we were treated to a thrilling finale that blotted out the earlier stifled game.
    Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not that naive to think that a team can take the field without some sort of tactics but I’d like to point out that you can have all the tactics in the world but when a team (Mayo last Sunday) runs at you like a bunch of crazed lunatics (boyler) fighting for their championship lives tactics ain’t gonna save ya!

  5. I agree with you Ah now…tactics are important and essential but no tactics will beat passion…look at Galway and Tipp in the hurling…3-9 scored by one man but each time they got a goal Galway were back…pushing all the way and letting nothing go easy…pure passion. Mayo have it in spades and it will see us over the line on Saturday…I totally believe in our men…Keep it up Mayo…I am so proud of you!!!

  6. Teams up;

    1. Robert Hennelly – Breaffy
    2. Ger Cafferkey – Ballina Stephenites
    3. Donal Vaughan – Ballinrobe
    4. Keith Higgins – Ballyhaunis (Capt.)
    5. Lee Keegan – Westport
    6. Chris Barrett – Belmullet
    7. Colm Boyle – Davitts
    8. Seamus O’Shea – Breaffy
    9. Tom Parsons – Charlestown Sarsfields
    10. Diarmuid O’Connor – Ballintubber
    11. Aidan O’Shea – Breaffy
    12. Kevin McLoughlin – Knockmore
    13. David Drake – Ballaghaderreen
    14. Cillian O’Connor – Ballintubber
    15. Jason Doherty – Burrishoole

  7. News just in – Connolly’s appeal was heard and the ban was upheld. He’s out of Saturday’s match.

  8. To add to all the tactical wisdom could I add the following. It’s about goals – stopping them getting any if possible and maybe sneaking one or two ourselves. When the game was “over” after sixty minutes last Sunday the score was two goals to nil to dublin.
    We need to stop them scoring goals at almost any cost. Foul them, give them frees, take cards, yellow or black but no goals please. It seems to me they, more than any other team, need them not just for the three points they represent but for the boost it gives them and the damage it does to opponents. Stop them scoring goals and watch them wilt!

  9. Sorry to hear Connolly is out. Prefer to give them no incentive, and beat their best anyway.
    Just after watching game again on Youtube.
    Thought Hennelly’s restarts were brilliant. Like to see him there again.
    And Drake deserves great credit too. We’ll see him again I feel sure.
    Best of luck to all on Sat.

  10. Irish Independent just reported it. Must have been on tonight. He can go further I think and probably will. However, there was a hearing tonight and his ban was upheld.

  11. It’s a very strange one, Vaughan been named in the team. You’d wonder what is the story there.

  12. A repeat of the last day; less the two soft goals and missed chances would go along way towards winning.
    If I were Dublin I would be stressing the free count against them especially in front of goal. They could/will target COC more as they will feel if he was taken out Mayo would have no chance.
    However they live on the edge (last week they crossed it) and if they lose that, Mayo will score heavily, so its catch 22 for them.
    I would also have a quite word to AM to be more aware when in possession as there was a goal for the taken if Andy had passed on both days (Donegal & Dublin).
    Agree with WJ regarding Drake, I would start Alan Freeman and I would bring on AM, BM & E. Regan (the latter would in my opinion be the ace in the pack when Dublin gets tired)

  13. One of the pieces of prevailing wisdom after the first match is that Mayo need to push up more on the kick outs, and lets assume Mayo do.
    Gavin will expect this and will have a plan to counter.
    How do we counter his counter plan? 🙂

  14. With Connolly and o Gara out this dublin attack is considerably weaker. Now is the time to take them. We will never have a better opportunity. It’s advantage Mayo.

  15. I’d doubt Dublin will go further at this stage, with Connolly

    They need to just focus on the match now

    Not a hope that Mayo team will be as named. If Vaughan can come back from that it’s a miracle!

    No chance Drake will start either

    It’d be daft to leave out Hennelly, switching keepers should really not happen unless enforced

    Whoever does start 13 will say a lot about the game plan so right thing to just name this team imo

  16. Connelly can appeal to the CCCC or maybe it’s only 3 C’s. Hard for Connelly to prepare mentally for the match either way. Last year Leroy wasn’t at his best in Limrick following his uncertain week. I have watched the full match now twice

  17. I think your spot on Mike. There is one proviso. Focus focus focus for the seventy minutes and improvise improvise improvise. It is a time for football brains. Let these Mayo footballers loose. When we are let loose there is no team to match us. Of course we have to pace ourselves throughout. But these are a great bunch of lads who must believe in themselves most of all. They owe us nothing. But they owe it to themselves to believe they can win.Belief is the key. Let the generations to come talk of the heroes of 2015. This is their destiny. Make no mistake. We are watching Mayo history in the making.
    An old man running out of time!!

  18. ‘Up Mayo’ Just one point on your comment about being sorry Connolly is out and would prefer to beat them at full strength, may I remind you that we beat them last Sunday at full strength just that the ref give them an extra point that wasn’t (i.e. Brogan’s point).

  19. Mayo hopefully to win need to be cute with cluxton kick outs he was finding his teammates a bit easier so they need push up a bit

  20. Rekon Leroy going to have to be very careful
    on Saturday.
    Dubs will feel aggrieved over the Connolly incident and will do their upmost to get a
    reaction from him.
    Probably better, as already suggested, to keep
    BM in reserve as is our only proper midfield replacement.
    Is it the game for Freeman? – alongside Aido and COC – he has a good history of scoring goals, and if given the chance, should be
    really up to impress.
    We just need move the ball much quicker than we did in 1st half on Sunday.
    Still think Higgs would be ideal for Sweeper.
    Back on de fags (temporary), nervous as fuck!

  21. Two points

    One. A lot of hot air has been generated by Bernard Brogan’s “was it/wasn’t it” point. There is no question that, at the highest point of its trajectory and during its descent this particular ball gave every impression that it was going to be about a metre wide. I have analysed it to death and in my humble opinion the ball made it inside the post just as it crossed the end-line.

    Two. Whether it was or wasn’t a point doesn’t matter a whit now. A replay has been fixed for next Saturday so let’s leave whinging and moaning aside and go up and win the bloody thing.

  22. Muckle, you describe yourself as “an old man running out of time”
    After 7 AI finals, a few semis and quarters, I feel like an old man BEFORE my time!!!

  23. That team won’t start I would much prefer
    Clarke in goal but that my opinion. I would certain hope Freeman start it’s a game that he could flourish remember 2013 he has a point to prove? I would like Regan to make the subs and hopefully Alan dillion plays a part? I felt we could have done with his experience last Sunday no disrespect to Mikey sweeney but experience sees out games. Mayo will need to start with high tempo and dictate the game zone in on the dubs strengthens. Those guys will give it their all they want to be winners the hurt of last year will see them over the line on Saturday.

  24. source of the robe, i read that each and every ball that goes over, through, inside or outside the uprights is tracked by the hawk eye thing, if that brogan ball was wide the article reckons it will let the game ref or umpires know, though some umpires wouldnt know even if the hawkeye machine landed on top of their heads.
    connolly is out for the game, no surprise because they let philly mcmahon and cooper off as well as perhaps cillian oconnor and keegan too but still needed to sacrifice some sort of scapegoat and connolly fitted the bill because of his antics in the game.

  25. A very thought provoking piece from Mike,thank you. Couldnt disagree with anything there except Drakes performance. I thought he made a fine contribution and only on one occasion did he get bottled up.Was it his fault? Where was the support? And I’m not too sure he fouled the ball either

    The two teams nullified each other in the first half. It was through fear on our part and inability on Dublins part.Our tactic of letting them have the ball worked cos they were nt able to scream through due to our extra numbers back.Thus their score rate was contained.Our score was likewise minimal cos we couldn’t get one or two up to support AOS. So part worked the other didn’t , quite.

    First quarter of sec half saw Mayo struggle to get out of straight jacket they were held in for whole ist half. And when we got sign of change, yes, we liked this …’s going to happen. But you can’t just flip and change into top notch scoring form after spending half an hour on as tilting and stultifying exercise. It happens in tennis. It happens with horses actors singers dancer runners etc. You re ever only ever millimeters away from having the freeze. What I’m saying is there was too much of that lark in ist half. We needed a mix to keep the players in the feel.

    It took desperation stakes on the part of M and a flagged and fecked D outfit towards the end to save our day. And you know I don’t think they ll bet like that again!

    We need a more controlled procedure. Need to be in charge of our own destiny and dictate the terms on sat. We are good enough to do this!

    As others have said let them have their ball for a while but make sure they pay for it and gobble them while they have it! Then press up and give poor old Cluk the jitters. Sow uncertainty and fear and he’s not the only vulnerable in the pack.

    So I say there ought to be a pattern but we need to see how it’s going. Needs to be an expectation of it and if it’s not to our profit , change it ….move someone , bring on someone. And to accompany the above we have everything as cllinical as the bull flying in the avenue after that cow..incl kicking passing running talking tackling scoring…..some ask!!
    Out of breath just thinking about it!

  26. Ur right overtheBARshouting but I hope Leeroy adapts his game to the person he is marking in that he was not intimidated by Connolly.. he had a job to do and that was to keep him quite by whatever means necessary. This time however I hope aside from his defensive duties that he will have more freedom to attack and that this time it will be their job to stop him.. he needs to keep his cool caus no doubt he will be targeted.. I wonder who will be set on him to try and contain and rile him?

  27. I see from Hogan Stand that we have named last Sunday’s starting 15 to begin again on Saturday. Including Donie Vaughan at No 3. So that means it’s anybody’s guess as to the actual starting 15 on Saturday.

  28. There are a number of really important issues for Saturday.
    1. DISCIPLINE. There is a strong possibility that the ref will be flashing cards early & often in this one. We need to be squeaky clean & the likes of Lee & Cillian in particular need to re-appear as altar boys. If we get on top towards the finish many of the Dubs will be looking at the end of their season & could act accordingly so huge discipline needed in order to have all our players available for the final. Don’t take the bait.
    2. GOALS. It’s still about goals. We need to prevent goals at all costs. The goal tally at the end needs to be in our favour.
    3 GAME PLAN. Divide this match up into quarters with a plan for each quarter .. a quarter to conserve energy & a quarter to let loose. We are at our best when all the cages in the zoo are open.
    SELECTION. This time the likes of Andy, Barry & Freeman need to see at least one full half of action each. Substitutions came too late the last day. I would play Aido at 11 in this one with either Barry or Freeman starting inside. No reason why Barry & Aido can’t rotate positions occasionally in order to conserve energy & confuse their markers.
    I would like to see Keith as our sweeper with Keith, Lee & Boyler all having their licence to attack restored. We lose too much by restraining their natural game … the trade off is not worth it. Our midfielders & wing forwards can drop back as pandemonium reigns.
    THE JUGULAR. Pound the centre of their defence with our runners. Frees, cards & scores will follow.
    DANGER: If anything should happen to any of our big men Tom, Seamie, Aido & Barry … do we have a clone on our bench ?
    BELIEF: We can beat these guys. Gave them too much respect the last day.
    We can & we will do this.

  29. I disagree with many of the points while I agree with some. This year we finally make it the blanket defence zone and it has helped the goals conceeded. I believe this needs to be further tightened the next day. We conceeded one last Sunday so dont fix what is not broken. BM on using all our midfielders with no cover, almost too daft to comphrend. We finished the last day with a stronger team that we started that’s why we are in a replay. This game will be decided in the last 15 minutes, we need to ensure we are still alive with our best team on the field and ready to cross the line. Revert back to a running game I hear you say. Carrying the ball in to contact and leaving space behind the runner for your Dublin opponents to exploit. See the league game in CBR in spring to find how that one worked. Finally repeat your past mistakes and expect a different result this time……….

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